Parents were disappointed after those proposing the “forced” academisation of Catholic schools pulled out of a meeting last night.

Representatives from Brentwood Diocese, the Catholic administrative body overseeing Catholic schools in the borough, refused to attend last night’s scrutiny meeting with councillors and families, saying they thought the event would prove “fruitless”.

The diocese has plans to move the Catholic schools in the borough, including Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Wanstead, away from council financial input and turn them into academies – schools funded by the government but run away from local authority input.

The proposals have proved controversial, with parents accusing the Catholic body of failing to properly consult affected families and councillors accusing it of “squalid behaviour”.

In response to an email invitation to the event, Robert Simpson, the director of education for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brentwood, said: “ I am going to have to turn down your offer as I believe any meeting we have will be fruitless.

“The Diocese of Brentwood has made a very clear decision to move towards full academisation over the next three years.

“As this is a decision made by our bishop about the direction of travel of his schools, it is, with all due respect, not a matter of scrutiny for the local authority.

“Moreover, Redbridge has made its position on this matter very clear, threatening organised protests should we continue with our plans to follow national Government policy.

“Therefore I see no outcome where this meeting will in any way move the situation forward.”

The refusal hit parents and councillors hard, with one councillor labelling the email’s tone “abrasive”.

Cllr Paul Donovan, of Wanstead Village, said: “Everyone attending the scrutiny meeting this evening was struck by the abrasive tone struck by the Diocese of Brentwood in its statement turning down the opportunity to explain its academisation process to the Education Scrutiny Committee.

“There seems to be a problem in terms of how the Diocese see the concept of consultation. Rather than enter into an open dialogue with all stakeholders effected, then move forward, it is as if the decision has already been made and we are really talking about implementation.

“This is unfair to pupils, parents, teachers, heads and governors. It must be hoped that the diocese think again and really start to listen to the very real concerns being raised.”

Joe Hehir, chair of the education scrutiny committee that arranged last night’s meeting, said: “It was very disappointing that the diocese of Brentwood decided not to take up our offer to share their plans for academisation of Catholic schools in Redbridge.

“We believe it is the wrong route to take but the diocese seem determined to plough on. The meeting noted on more than one occasion how St Aidens school had to be helped out by Redbridge, after hitting problems.

“The arrogant disdain shown by the diocese toward offers to consult on matters that will effect hundreds of pupils across Redbridge should be a cause for real concern.

“There also seems to be a blatant disregard for the need to be accountable in the public arena. It is an ongoing matter of curiosity as to why the diocese of Redbridge has left its seat at the Education Scrutiny Committee empty since 2011.”

Mr Hehir plans to write to the diocese, headteachers, governors and the Catholic Education Service regarding what he calls the “lack of consultation across Redbridge” over the academisation issue.

One grandparent, whose grandchild attends St Augustines Primary School in Cranbrook, expressed concern about the lack of consultation.

She said: “There has been no obvious evidence produced as to why this process is taking place. We have major concerns about how the staff will be treated.”

Cllr Martin Sachs, of Barkingside ward, added: ”The most unacceptable thing is the arrogance shown by the diocese in not attending this meeting. It is disgraceful and unacceptable.

“We know that academisation is a process whereby power is transferred away from the community and local authority.”

Cllr Sachs described academisation is a one way street, saying schools can be taken in but not out.

Colin Stewart, director of education at Redbridge Council, also questioned whether the diocese had the capacity to support the academies.

He also highlighted the danger that academies can end up taking from the schools budget if they lack capacity for other functions.

Cllr Anne Sachs, of Chadwell ward, then accused the diocese of “squalid behaviour.”

She said: “We have a statutory duty to protect public money – they are refusing to engage.”

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young peoples services, added: “We went into St Aidens because we felt we had a duty to the children. It is very concerning the way this consultation has been handled. We have tried to keep the door open.”

Brentwood Diocese has been contacted for comment.